Do you know what is really hard to find? A good “guess who” story. One that leaves you shocked at the end and isn’t filled with annoying red herrings. It is also hard to find such a book with a shocking ending that feels like the author picked the conclusion out of thin air. But I’ve found one – and it’s a pretty damn good read.
The Suspects* by Katharine Johnson is a psychological thriller set in Bristol in 1988. It introduces us to five young graduates, Xanthe, Emily, Zak, Stuart and Imogen, who decide to get their foot on the property ladder early by buying a house together. Everything is going relatively well until after their New Year’s Eve party when they discover a body in the basement. Knowing they will be the first suspects if they report it to the police, they come up with a solution that will change their lives forever. They agree to keep everything a secret but can they trust each other?
When a book opens with a funeral scene you know you are onto a good thing. At least if you have a morbid streak like me. The Suspects opens at Xanthe’s funeral and from the chit chat from the others, you can automatically tell she was an interesting person. Then the book jumps right back to when the housemates first decided to buy a house together. This kick-started the suspense for me and started the strong urge to know what happened Xanthe.
It also had me already pondering what the others had to hide from the very start of the book. They were a curious bunch of friends. Stuart had a bad temper and often alluded to a dark past. Imogen was probably the most mature of the bunch but she annoyingly acted high and mighty and has an awful boyfriend, Rick. Zak was a generally nice guy but a womaniser. And then there was Emily.
The Suspects is told from the viewpoint of Emily. This was a good choice by the author. Emily was the most “normal” of the friends. It really felt like she was forced into the entire mess and while she did go along with the plan made, she seemed to do so with an innocence that made you feel sorry for her. I could really sense how Emily’s spirit was dying more and more with every chapter because of the position she found herself in. She came across as detached from the others and I liked this because I felt like I was given a well-rounded view of what was going on rather than a biased opinion, even though the book was written in a first-person narrative. Also, because she was so human, I could really feel the regret, sadness and tiredness that was felt.
Like I mentioned in the opening paragraph, there were no red herrings in this book. The ending was up for grabs by any character. Yet, it felt like a believable ending and one that caught me completely off guard. Can there be more books like this published, please?
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.